Unarmed National Guard soldier shot and killed inside the United Nations buffer zone. (June 4, 1996)

Unarmed National Guard soldier shot and killed inside the United Nations buffer zone. (June 4, 1996)


[1] UN Security Council - Press Release SC/6236

[...]
Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1062 (1996), the Council deplored the tragic incident of 3 June in which a Greek Cypriot National Guardsman was fatally shot within the United Nations buffer zone. It called on the military authorities of both sides to respect the integrity of the zone, ensure that no further incidents occur along it, prevent hostile actions, including live fire against UNFICYP, grant the Force complete freedom of movement, and cooperate fully with it.
[...]
"3. Deplores the tragic incident involving the fatal shooting of a Greek Cypriot National Guardsman inside the United Nations buffer zone on 3 June 1996, as well as the hindering by Turkish Cypriot soldiers of UNFICYP personnel attempting to assist the National Guardsman and investigate the incident, as documented in the report of the Secretary-General of 7 June 1996;"
[...]
Secretary-General's Reports
[...]
He cites, in particular, an incident in which an unarmed National Guard soldier was shot and killed inside the United Nations buffer zone in central Nicosia. The lethal round was fired by a Turkish Cypriot soldier whom UNFICYP observed entering the buffer zone with his rifle strung across his back. Shortly thereafter, a single shot was heard and the Turkish Cypriot soldier was seen running back to the Turkish cease-fire line. UNFICYP soldiers were prevented for some 25 minutes from reaching the National Guard soldier by Turkish Cypriot soldiers, who fired shots in their direction each time they tried to move forward.
[...]

[2] Irish Times - Shooting of soldier was `cold-blooded murder'

Turkish troops shot dead an unarmed Greek Cypriot soldier yesterday in a UN-controlled buffer zone dividing the capital of Cyprus, Cypriot military officials said.

The President of Cyprus, Mr Glafcos Clerides, condemned the shooting as "cold-blooded murder".

The Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktash, said the youth's death was "a very sad incident".

The 19-year-old soldier was shot twice at 6.30 a.m. (local time) west of central Nicosia, a Defence Ministry official, Mr Andreas Charides, said.

"He entered the buffer zone and started talking to a Turkish soldier . . . another Turkish soldier close by shot him," Mr Charides said.

The dead soldier, shot in the chest, was identified as Stelios Panayi, a refugee from the Turkish-occupied village of Kythrea in north Cyprus. According to unconfirmed reports, the victim met a Turkish soldier to exchange army caps. The same reports indicate that he entered the buffer zone after the Turkish soldier beckoned to him.

The incident on the tense "Green Line" dividing the Mediterranean island came on the day British diplomat, Sir David Hannay, was due to arrive in a fresh effort to secure a Cyprus settlement.

Turkey has some 30,000 troops in northern Cyprus, which it seized during an invasion in July 1974 in the wake of a short-lived coup in Nicosia inspired by the Greek military junta. The Turkish-occupied areas have been described in UN reports as one of the most densely militarised areas in the world.

The area where the soldier was shot comes under the jurisdiction of the UN Peacekeeping Force on the island, UNFICYP. A British contingent of troops are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the buffer zone in the area where the soldier was shot.

A similar incident occurred in 1993, when a Greek Cypriot soldier was killed approaching a Turkish army sentry post east of Nicosia. He was also unarmed, carrying a bottle of brandy to share with a Turkish soldier on the other side. - (Reuter)


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Giorgos Zacharia (lysi@mit.edu) 1995-1999.
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